It’s all systems go for the implementation of agri-parks in the North West province.
This after the recentvisit by Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti and the North West MEC for Rural Environmental and Agricultural Development, Manketsi Tlhape, to the agri-park at Springbokpan.
The visit was to assess the state of readiness of the Springbokpan silos. The Silo is being refurbished as part of the establishment of agri-parks in the province.
Three agri-parks have been identified for the North West province which are Springbokpan, Moretele and Vryburg.
Economically viable sites in all 27 priority districts have been identified across the country for the construction of agri-parks and R2 billion has been made available for the agri-park initiative, of which 1% will go into capacity building especially in municipalities.
The establishment of the agri-parks follows a pronouncement by President Jacob Zuma in his State of the Nation address earlier this year when he committed government to promoting agri-parks and transforming rural economies.
Springbokpan agri-parks will consist of Milling (starch and animal), mechanization warehouse, input warehouse as well as Foodbank.
In its essence, the creation of agri-parks will assist the province with amongst others, to contribute to its earmarked 6% economic growth with the Department of Rural Environmental and Agricultural Development being one of the leaders.
It is also meant to ensure job creation, generate revenue as well as to empower women and youth. It is envisaged to attract investment in both domestic and international fund markets and ensure food security in rural households and revival of food gardens in rural areas.
The agri-parks will also implement sub sector operator model to enforce clustering and processing thereby creating market access.
Elaborating on the agri-park concept, MEC Tlhape said the initiative is meant to support farmers.
She said it is important for farmers to be hands-on on the initiative.
The MEC said the farmers have the task of producing what would be in the Silos.
MEC Tlhape said government is still to decide on the percentage that farmers are to contribute to the silos.
“It is therefore up to the farmers to ensure that the agri-parks concept lives,” she said.
Minister Nkwinti spoke eagerly on this national government initiative, adding that the concept is ready for implementation and should therefore go ahead.
The Minister also echoed MEC Tlhape’s sentiments that farmers should be part of the initiative.
He emphasised the need for communities in the North West to ensure that every land is productive.
“If we have a productive land then our Silos would fulfil their purpose,” he said.
The Minister also announced government’s plan for the producers to own 70% of the agri-parks. The remaining 30% will be for government and other contributors.
Minister Nkwinti reiterated that it was important for government to look into the existing infrastructure hence the refurbishment at Springbokpan.
Morule, one of the Ngaka Modiri Molema District farmers, was excited about the agri-park initiative and urged other farmers to embrace it.
He said he was happy that government was now leading them in a way they had always wanted. He said the resuscitation of the silos was long overdue.
With the progress made on the Springbokpan agri-park, Minister Nkwinti was confident that the national launch led by President Jacob Zuma would be hosted by the North West province.
African Heads of State, government representatives and experts are gathering at the International Conference on Illegal Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora in Africa where they will develop a common roadmap to end wildlife trafficking on the continent.
The Conference will seek to advance the first-ever Africa-wide strategy and action plan to tackle the illegal trade in wild fauna and flora, to be further considered at the next African Union Heads of State Summit later this year.
The four-day event is organised under the leadership of the Republic of Congo, in partnership with the African Union Commission (AUC), and with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the African Development Bank, the Lusaka Agreement Task Force and the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC), among others.
“Forests and wildlife are part of our common African heritage but are disappearing at an alarming pace,” said His Excellency Denis Sassou Nguesso, the President of the Republic of Congo. “We have a duty to work together, as a continent, to safeguard our unique biodiversity for present and future generations and to craft strong collective solutions to address this calamity.”
The value of wildlife crime, comprising fauna and flora, and including logging, poaching and trafficking of a wide range of animals, amounts to many hundreds of billions of US dollars a year, according to estimates of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNEP and INTERPOL.
Wildlife trafficking destroys biodiversity and ecosystems, undermining development and eroding livelihoods for millions of African citizens. It also creates insecurity, fuelling conflicts and corruption, depriving countries of their assets, compromising the rule of law and dividing societies.
“By the end of this event, we envisage to have a clear roadmap toward a strategy that is strong, Africa-owned and Africa-led,” noted Her Excellency Tumusiime Rhoda Peace, the AU Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture. “The document will aim to galvanize collective action across borders and it will offer practical, home-grown solutions towards decisively eliminating poaching and illegal wildlife trade.”
Following the Brazzaville conference, the draft strategy and associated action plan will be further developed in consultation with all African Member States, and progress on the strategy will be reviewed when the continent’s leaders gather at their bi-annual meeting, in June 2015, in South Africa.
“An African strategy developed by the African Union and its Member States, and focused on the needs of the continent is an extremely important step forward,” said Achim Steiner, the Executive Director of UNEP.
“Its development will require full engagement of Member States, and its implementation will require enhanced and sustained international support, strong information networks, better public advocacy and accountability, as well as adequate laws and mechanisms to fully address the problem.”
The International Conference on Illegal Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora in Africa builds on the momentum and outcomes of the 2014 London and 2015 Kasane High Level Conferences on Illegal Wildlife Trade, and comes on the heels of the 23rd African Union Summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, which urged African nations to apply zero tolerance approaches, to take action to strengthen laws and policies, and to engage communities to combat illegal wildlife trafficking and related criminal activities.
“Trafficking in wildlife and forest products poses serious security, environmental, and development challenges”, said Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator. “Addressing rural poverty, strengthening governance and the rule of law, and eradicating illicit trade in wildlife are key to addressing these threats and are essential for achieving Africa’s vision for sustainable development.”
On 30 April, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) will organise a burning of seized hardwood timber and illegal ivory.
Source: African Environment
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Rehabilitation of parks
The Umtshezi Community Parks and Street Cleaning projects involve the rehabilitation of community parks and planting of trees in and around Umtshezi local municipality. The projects aim to restore, enhance and rehabilitate open spaces, thereby maximising measures towards pollution mitigation.
Through the Umtshezi Community Parks Project, the DEA will build parking bays, plant grass and provide general landscaping as well as ablution facilities. In addition, existing fencing to the parks will be refurbished.
The Umtshezi Street Cleaning Project, which is implemented as part of the Department’s Working for Waste Programme, the DEA is making a colossal contribution to the municipality to carry out basic solid waste management operations. These include collection and safe disposal of waste, hence the purchasing of skip and concrete bins.
Thomson urged members of the community, as beneficiaries of these projects, to take ownership of the projects by ensuring that they are kept clean and well maintained.
The war on rhino poaching cannot be won without the participation of communities, Chief Executive of the South African National Parks (SANParks) Fundisile Mketeni said on Tuesday.
“While carrying out our work at national, regional and international level to address the scourge of rhino poaching and the illegal wildlife trade, work is also being done at community level by institutions such as SANParks to raise awareness of the plight of the rhino,” Mketeni said at a ceremony marking the World Wildlife Day in the Kruger National Parks (KNP), one of Africa’s biggest game reserves in northeastern South Africa.
The theme for this year’s World Wildlife Day is “Wildlife Crime is serious: let’s get serious about wildlife crime”.
The aim is to highlight the positive role that local communities can play in helping to curb illegal wildlife trade.
As the eyes and ears of the government, the communities must join forces in combating poaching by blowing the whistle on this heinous crime, Mketeni said.
South Africa has adopted a four pillar strategy towards addressing the rhino poaching scourge. A key pillar highlighted in the national strategy focusses on one of the critical game- changing interventions-namely creating opportunities for communities to make alternative economic choices.
South Africa bears the brunt of rhino poaching, losing 1,215 rhinos last year.
South Africa is the custodian of the world’s rhinos. In the country, the loss of rhinos could be equated to a loss of revenue for many communities resulting in a decline in living conditions, a loss of jobs through a decline in tourism and hunting through the country’s sustainable utilisation policy, and a sad loss to a part of the country’s natural and cultural heritage, Mketeni said.
South Africa is home to approximately 21,000 white and black rhinos, of which most are found in the KNP. This represents 93 percent of the world’s total rhino population, according to Mketeni. “The South African population is one of the last viable rhino populations in the world, which makes it vulnerable. South Africa is, therefore, the last remaining hope for the world, in terms of rhino conservation,” he said.
Rhino poaching, worth billions of dollars, deprives local communities of income that could be used to create jobs and improve livelihood in the long term instead of benefiting a small group of criminals in the short-term, Mketeni said.
Even internationally, through the sustainable development goals, there are calls to combat poaching and illegal wildlife trade by increasing capacity of the local communities so as to create sustainable livelihood opportunities for future generations, he said.
In going forward, South Africa is embarking on a number of new initiatives around the KNP with a focus on projects that support the game-changing pillar of South Africa’s integrated rhino strategy, according to Mketeni.
This includes, for example, addressing basic human needs such as water provision to poor neighboring communities to be funded through rhino-related programmes, to economic opportunities associated with various benefits derived from live rhinos through community-managed rhino conservation initiatives.
In the short term, the SANParks seeks to focus on communities bordering the southern KNP Intensive Rhino Protection Zone (IPZ) with the broader vision expanding around the extent of the park’s border.
The focus has been on the community and the youth-not only the role they can play, or are playing, in combating rhino poaching, but in assisting to protect the country’s natural heritage and their economic future, Mketeni said.
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We know that protected areas like national parks and wildlife reserves are beneficial for protecting biodiversity and combatting climate change. But often it’s difficult to translate these benefits into monetary value. Protected areas also benefit the many people who visit them, and in turn those people spend money on things like entrance fees, tours, and accommodation. Calculating this economic value may be key to keeping these areas protected or establishing new ones, and to help compare the long-term value of protected areas to extractive industries like logging, mining or drilling for oil.
A new study published in the open access journal PLOS Biology attempted to calculate the global value of protected areas in terms of ecotourism, as well as the total number of visits per year protected areas receive.
The study estimates that protected nature areas around the world receive 8 billion visits per year. Yes—that’s a staggering number, with more than one visit per person on earth. Yet the model is likely to be quite conservative, since it excludes protected areas smaller than 10 hectares, marine protected areas, Antarctic areas, and areas where tourism is discouraged.
The authors write that some major national estimates support their finding, with an estimated 2.5 billion visits per year to protected areas in the United States and over 1 billion visits per year to China’s National Parks. Estimated visits per protected area were highest in North America and lowest in Africa.
The researchers then calculated how much these 8 billion visits are worth, and estimated that direct spending comes to $600 billion US per year.
“Our US $600 billion figure for the annual value of protected area tourism is likely to be an underestimate—yet it dwarfs the less than US $10 billion spent annually on safeguarding and managing these areas,” said Dr. Robin Naidoo of World Wildlife Fund, one of the study’s authors, in a press statement.
The study also suggests that a lot more could be invested in protecting wildlife areas, and with our current rapid rate of extinction, that investment is more than necessary. “Through previous research, we know that the existing reserve network probably needs three to four times what is current being spent on it,” Naidoo said.
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By Jeffrey Moyo
Harare — There’s a buzz in Zimbabwe’s lush forests, home to many animal species, but it’s not bees, bugs or other wildlife. It’s the sound of a high-speed saw, slicing through the heart of these ancient stands to clear land for tobacco growing, to log wood for commercial export and to supply local area charcoal sellers.
This, despite Zimbabwe being obliged under the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to ensure environmental sustainability by the end of this year.
“The rate at which deforestation is occurring here will convert Zimbabwe into an outright desert in just 35 years if pragmatic solutions are not proffered urgently and also if people keep razing down trees for firewood without regulation,” Marylin Smith, an independent conservationist based in Masvingo, Zimbabwe’s oldest town, and former staffer in the government of President Robert Mugabe, told IPS.
“The rate at which deforestation is occurring here will convert Zimbabwe into an outright desert in just 35 years if pragmatic solutions are not proffered urgently” – Marylin Smith, independent conservationist based in Masvingo, Zimbabwe
According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Zimbabwe lost an annual average of 327,000 hectares of forests between 1990 and 2010.
Smith blamed Zimbabwe’s deforestation on the growing numbers of tobacco farmers who were cutting “millions of tonnes of firewood each year to treat the cash crop.”
According to the country’s Tobacco Industry Marketing Board, Zimbabwe currently has 88,167 tobacco growers, whom environmental activists say are the catalysts of looming desertification here.
“Curing tobacco using huge quantities of firewood and even increased domestic use of firewood in both rural and urban areas will leave Zimbabwe without forests and one has to imagine how the country would look like after the demise of the forests,” Thabilise Mlotshwa, an ecologist from Save the Environment Association, an environmental lobby group here, told IPS.
“But really, it is difficult to object to firewood use when this is the only energy source most rural people have despite the environment being the worst casualty,” Mlotshwa added.
Zimbabwe’s deforestation crisis is linked to several factors.
“There are thousands of timber merchants who have no mercy with our trees as they see ready cash in almost every tree and therefore don’t spare the trees in order to earn money,” Raymond Siziba, an agricultural extension officer based in Mvurwi, a district approximately 100 kilometres north of the Zimbabwean capital Harare, told IPS.
According to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStat), there were 66,250 timber merchants nationwide last year alone.
Deforestation is a complex issue. A recent study by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported that during the decade from 1980 to 1990, the world’s tropical forests were reduced by an average of 15.4 million hectares per year (an 0.8 percent annual rate of deforestation).
The area of land cleared during the decade is equivalent to nearly three times the size of France.
Developing countries rely heavily on wood fuel, the major energy source for cooking and heating. In Africa, the statistics are striking: an estimated 90 percent of the entire continent’s population uses fuelwood for cooking, and in sub-Saharan Africa, firewood and brush supply approximately 52 percent of all energy sources.
Zimbabwe is not the only sub-Saharan country facing a crisis in its forests. A panel run by the United Nations and the African Union and led by former South African President Thabo Mbeki found that in Mozambique thousands more logs were exported to China than were legally reported.
Disappearing forest cover is a particular problem in Ghana, where non-timber forest products provide sustenance and income for 2.5 million people living in or near forest communities.
Between 1990 and 2005, Ghana lost over one-quarter of its total national forest cover. At the current rate of deforestation, the country’s forests could completely disappear in less than 25 years. Current attempts to address deforestation have stalled due to lack of collaboration between stakeholders and policy makers.
In west equatorial Africa, a study by Greenpeace has called logging the single biggest threat to the Congo Basin rainforest. At the moment, logging companies working mostly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are busy cutting down trees in over 50 million hectares of rainforest, or an area the size of France, according to its website.
An estimated 20 to 25 percent of annual deforestation is thought to be due to commercial logging. Another 15 to 20 percent is attributed to other activities such as cattle ranching, cash crop plantations and the construction of dams, roads, and mines.
However, deforestation is primarily caused by the activities of the general population. As the Zimbabwe economy plummets, indigenous timber merchants are on the rise, battling to eke a living, with environmentalists accusing them of fuelling deforestation.
For many rural dwellers, lack of electricity in most rural areas is creating unsustainable pressures on forests in Zimbabwe.
“Like several other remote parts of Zimbabwe, we have no electricity here and for years we have been depending on firewood, which is the main source of energy for rural dwellers even for the past generations, and you can just imagine the amount of deforestation remote areas continue to suffer,” 61-year-old Irene Chikono, a teacher from Mutoko, 143 kilometres east of Harare, told IPS.
Even Zimbabweans with access to electricity are at the mercy of erratic power supplies from the state-owned Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA), which is failing to meet electricity demand owing to inadequate finances to import power.
“With increasing electricity outages here, I often resort to buying firewood from vendors at local market stalls, who get this from farms neighbouring the city,” 31-year-old Collina Hokonya, a single mother of three residing in Harare’s high density Mbare suburb, told IPS.
Government claims it is doing all it can to combat deforestation but, faced with this country’s faltering economy, indigenous timber merchants and villagers say it may be hard for them to refrain from tree-felling.
“We are into the timber business not by choice, but because of joblessness and we therefore want to make money in order to survive,” Mevion Javangwe, an indigenous timber merchant based in Harare, told IPS.
“A gradual return of people from cities to lead rural life as the economy worsens is adding pressure on rural forests as more and more people cut down trees for firewood,” Elson Moyo, a village head in Vesera village in Mwenezi, 144 kilometres south-west of Masvingo, told IPS.
“Politicians are plundering and looting the hardwood forest reserves since they own most sawmills, with their relatives fronting for them,” Owen Dliwayo, a civil society activist based in Chipinge, an eastern border town of Zimbabwe, told IPS.
“For all the forests that politicians plunder, they don’t pay a cent to council authorities and truly how do people get motivated to play a part in conserving hardwood forests?” Dliwayo asked.
“We will only manage to fight deforestation if government brings electricity to our doorsteps because without electricity we will keep cutting down trees for firewood,” said Chikono.
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With easy access to its National Parks, fantastic roads, stylish cities, enticing cuisine and vibrant culture, South Africa is accessible Africa; a destination for families, first-timers and the less fearless.
Best known for the wildlife which wanders its vast parks and conservancies, it can be easy to consider a holiday to South Africa as simply a chance to tick off the ‘Big Five’ from a safari bucketlist. However we shouldn’t ignore the people, history and heritage which make this the real Rainbow Nation. Responsibletravel.com’s 2-minute guide to South Africa argues that for a truly authentic South African experience its culture shouldn’t just be a safari afterthought.
While South Africa may not have the ‘cliched’ tribal experiences found in other countries in Africa – for example encounters with the Himba in Namibia, or walks with the Maasai in Kenya – what it does have are far more real and accessible opportunities for tourists to really connect with culture, through music, delicious street food, festivals and art fairs, without the need for contrived tours.
South Africa’s townships are home to many millions of its residents, of all cultural backgrounds, and provide a real insight into modern South African life. Although these tours can be controversial, especially when tourists drive through, shooting pictures and giving nothing in return; when locally run, using local guides and with regular stops to visit markets, craftsmen and local shebeens these tours give some of South Africa’s poorest communities the chance to promote their heritage, generate income for their families and develop much-needed community initiatives.
Uthando, in Cape Town is a great example of people-led tourism products leading to genuine, grassroots development projects, and Durban’s Langa Township is now part of the city’s Hop-on Hop-off Red Bus Tours; a result of ongoing social enterprise developments around local jazz, heritage, arts culture and food.
South Africa’s very troubled recent history shapes the lives of everyone tourists will meet in the country, and to really understand the present day South Africa, tourists have to make the effort to learn more about its complex past. The Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg is a must-visit, yet moving place to put this history into the context of everyday South Africans.
Not solely a tourist museum, it also serves as a powerful place of peace and reconciliation. In its own words: “The museum is a beacon of hope showing the world how South Africa is coming to terms with its oppressive past and working towards a future that all South Africans can call their own.”
With such an array of cultures to explore it is possible to have the holiday of a lifetime in South Africa without seeing one wild animal. Which, of course, would be a real shame. So rather than trying to touch every colour of the Rainbow Nation, try instead to become immersed in just one or two places which will give you a balance of heritage and natural history, culture and wildlife.
KwaZulu-Natal, for example, tucked away in the east of the country is an ideal destination for authentic adventures and yet often overlooked for the more famous Garden Route or Kruger National Park. The customs and beliefs of Zulu culture underpin daily life here. Learning how the past has shaped the present, tourists can take informative tours of the 1879 Anglo-Zulu battlefields at Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift with a local guide, before staying in a traditional Zulu homestead or ‘Umuzi’, offering homestay experiences for visitors. This is a unique, immersive way to understand the importance traditional tribal cultures have in modern South Africa away from more contrived tourist cultural shows.
KwaZulu-Natal also has world-class wildlife, and the sought-after ‘Big Five’ in abundance. Many reserves are doing key conservation work, including Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, where anti-poaching initiatives were successful in bringing back the white rhino from the brink of extinction in the 1950s. And with rhino (and other species) numbers continuing to be threatened, ensuring that a South Africa holiday supports key conservation efforts is vitally important.
Source: Travel Mole